Gluten-free lemon & pistachio cake with rosewater icing

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Prep 30min (+1hr cooling time)Bake 30minMakes 8-10 serves

This gluten-free and dairy-free recipe, with its subtle lemon flavour teamed with an aromatic rosewater icing and light nutty texture, is the perfect afternoon-tea cake. It will dip slightly in the centre due to its delicate nature but this is just a sign of how lovely and light it is.


Light olive oil, to grease
100g (1 cup) almond meal
100g (¾ cup) raw unsalted pistachios, toasted and finely ground
90g (½ cup) instant polenta or wholegrain corn flour
2 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder
3 eggs, at room temperature
165g (¾ cup) caster sugar
125ml (½ cup) light olive oil
1 lemon, rind finely shredded, juiced
extra raw unsalted pistachios, toasted and coarsely chopped, to decorate
dried rose petals (optional), to decorate

Lemon and rosewater icing
125g (1 cup) pure icing sugar
1 tablespoon (about) strained fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon rosewater
gluten-free pink or rose food colouring, to tint

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Brush a 20cm springform cake tin with olive oil and line the base with non-stick baking paper.
  2. Place the almond meal, ground pistachios, polenta and baking powder in a medium bowl and use a whisk to stir to combine and remove any lumps. Set aside.
  3. Use an electric mixer with a whisk attachment to whisk the eggs and sugar on medium-high speed until thick and pale and a ribbon trail forms when the whisk is lifted. Whisk in the olive oil, 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice and the lemon rind.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and use a spatula or large metal spoon to fold until evenly combined. Pour into the prepared cake tin and bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Stand the cake in the tin on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing the sides of the tin. Set aside to cool completely.
  5. To make the lemon and rosewater icing, sift the icing sugar into a medium bowl. Gradually stir in the 1 tablespoon lemon juice and the rosewater until the mixture is smooth and has a thick coating consistency, adding a little more juice if needed. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature until ready to use.
  6. Drizzle the cooled cake with the icing and then sprinkle with extra pistachio nuts and dried rose petals, if using. Set aside for 30 minutes or until the icing has set before serving in wedges.

Baker's Tips
  • This cake will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.


    This recipe is from Anneka's SBS Food online column Bakeproof: Gluten-free baking. Click here for more Bakeproof columns and recipes.

    Photography by Alan Benson.